It was really interesting to me that two family members recently admitted to pangs of guilt about taking the time to read for pleasure during the day. ("Are these people really related to me?" I had to ask.) Yours truly never really thought about it that way. I mean, reading is sort of what I do. In my world it's akin to eating regular meals and the two activities are generally combined.
But I guess I can see where they are coming from. With the exception of meals or maybe a session on the treadmill, it is a little hard to combine reading with other activities unless you do the book on tape thing. Even then, books pretty much require a lot of attention and focus to get the full effect. So, housework or anything else productive is out of the question.
Maybe it's because I also write that I feel reading is so very, very important. Long ago it was drummed into my head that one must read quality literature in order to write well. (Not that I minded, of course.) It also happens to be very true. Reading is the best way to learn what the good stuff looks like and to develop a more varied vocabulary. Even what I call "fluff reading" (mainstream fiction) can be valuable to stimulate the mind and imagination.
Besides all that, reading is my escape. After a long, hard day I like nothing more than to disappear into another world along with a cup of tea. Instead of guilt I feel the necessity of reading a good book. It's what keeps my mind from worrying over to-do lists and budgets. You certainly can't stress over schedules and commiserate with Anne Elliot at the same time. That's just the way I like it.
So, readers, what camp do you fall into? Is reading like breathing for you or do you feel just a little bit guilty?